Steve Stone's mailbag: Will Ozzie stay or go?

Steve Stone's mailbag: Will Ozzie stay or go?

Friday, Sept. 24, 2010
4:56 PM

Steve Stone dives into his mailbag toanswer your questions about Ozzie Guillen, Darwin Barney, maple bats and more!

Adam Highland, IN: Now that the Sox are eliminated from playoff contention, what do you think is the most important thing for them to do over the offseason to make sure theyre back in the playoff hunt next year?

Steve Stone: In order of importance, the main thing is to resolve the Ozzie situation where they know who is going to manage this team and then make plans on how to go forward from there. I think one of the things they would like is a left-hand difference maker, a guy who can produce some runs for them. I think they are going to have to make a decision on who is going to close, they have to find out if Brent Morel at third is a viable situation or if he needs a little more minor league seasoning along with making decisions with Paul Konerko and AJ Pierzynski, who are both free agents after this season. So a lot of work for the Sox.

Trevor - Chicago, IL: What do you make of all the rumors surrounding Ozzie? Do you think he could end up in Miami?

Stone: I think Ozzie could end up anywhere and just as well end up in the dugout with the White Sox. I think it has been made clear by Kenny Williams, he can do what he wants to do. The ball is in Ozzie's court - does he want to stay or does he want to go is the question.

Cathy Peoria, IL: In light of the broken bat incident involving Tyler Colvin, what is your opinion on maple bats? Should baseball get rid of them?

Stone: I think there probably is a less radical solution than banning maple bats form the game. It might have something to do with either a rubberized or some kind of coating, so when they break they don't explode into the stands or infield. That is something that has to be worked on and it they cant find a resolution, if they cant find a way to stop them from literally exploding, they may have to look at the radical step. Hitters seem to like them, they are lively and at least for the moment, they will be part of the game and usually, there is a solution on how to work this out without taking that next step of a complete ban.

Kevin Chicago, IL: Which of the Cubs late season call-ups has impressed you the most? Do you think any of them could be on the roster next season?

Stone: I think Darwin Barney has a legitimate shot as a very good swing player in the Majors. Not sure if there is a definitive place for him but he is someone who can play None of them really jump out at you. I believe a lot of the team for next year is settled if you consider you will keep Marlon in center which I assume you want to do. For most of the year he has hit .300 though it has slipped below that. Alfonso Soriano and Aramis Ramirez are coming back, Starlin Castro very promising. First seems to have an opening. The Cubs have a lot of questions to answer in solidifying their bullpen and perhaps one starting pitcher, depending on the Carlos Zambrano situation. They do have some talent but a lot that isn't quite ready yet.

Sean - Chicago, IL: Who do you think wins the NL West?

Stone: It's a tremendous race boiling down to San Francisco and San Diego - the final games are between them in San Francisco. It appears at this point with San Diego just a half a game back but tied in the loss column, but seems the winner will win the West. I like the Giants pitching a bit better, as far as hitting, they are both pretty much challenged as scoring is concerned. San Diego has proved a good road team, 8 games over and San Francisco is 15 games over at home. I think San Francisco wins the division but if they do, it will be by an eyelash.

Wonky streaks, good fortune over Cavs on the line for Bulls

Wonky streaks, good fortune over Cavs on the line for Bulls

No matter the metric or the occasion, the only thing definitive about the Bulls over the last two seasons has been their mystifying dominance over the Cleveland Cavaliers in head-to-head matchups.

That, and their fascinating streak of consecutive wins while playing at home on TNT, a streak that could end at 19 games Thursday night when the two teams with varying objectives clash at the United Center.

The Cavaliers are searching to find themselves, along with a light switch that will perhaps alert them to a lost defense over the past several weeks that has been worst in the league since the All-Star break.

The Bulls are searching for consistency, but since it’s probably a little too late in the season for that, they’ll settle for a playoff spot with eight games left.

They’ll take two straight wins for the first time in a month, if they can get it.

They’ll extend a goofy streak, if that’s what things will come down to.

“The big thing is obviously you have to execute very well against this Cleveland team,” Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said. “You have to go out there with great urgency, great energy. I anticipate them coming in and playing with a ton of energy tomorrow. We’re going to have to match that. We’re going to have to come out and play physical basketball.”

Having a big break between games this late in the season is a rarity, as the Bulls have been off since Sunday evening, but it’s just another weird detail in this weird Bulls experience.

An experience that the mild-mannered Hoiberg has to experience from his couch some nights, such as watching the Miami Heat furiously steal a game in Detroit at the buzzer with a Hasaan Whiteside tip-in to extend a lead over his team to a game, followed by another win Wednesday to put more distance between the two teams.

“I did, actually,” said Hoiberg with a smirk when asked if he’s scoreboard watching and paying attention to the teams ahead of the Bulls in the playoff race.

After being prompted to give his raw emotions when Whiteside’s tip-in occurred, he slipped right back to Robo-Hoiberg—although one can imagine how animated he must’ve been while looking to catch a break from a previous contender for the eighth spot in the Pistons.

“It is what it is,” Hoiberg said. “You have to go out and worry about yourselves at this time of year. It was a great finish for Miami, obviously, the way that game ended. But there’s nothing you can do about that. You’ve got to worry about yourselves and hopefully go out and execute.”

Going 6-1 against the Cavaliers in his two seasons as Bulls coach is probably the biggest feather in his cap, including three wins in all three meetings this go round.

The rhyme or reason doesn’t seem explainable, but Nikola Mirotic seemed to give a few keys to the Bulls’ success over LeBron James’ Cavaliers: Sharing the ball, controlling the glass and getting back on defense.

“Against big teams, we play much better,” Mirotic said. “I don’t know why is the reason for that. We need to find a way to play against everybody like that. It’s on us. We just have to prove it.”

Usually, those tenets seem to work against most teams, not just the supremely talented champions who’ve just lost a grip on first place in the conference.

But their inconsistencies have left the Bulls here with a handful of games left before the April 12th finale.

A win over Cleveland could mean everything, or nothing at all, or something in between.

“Sure, we understand,” Mirotic said. “We’ve been in a very similar situation last year. We didn’t make the playoffs so this year we want to try to make that push. I think we have a good schedule for the last. Very important game tomorrow, huge one. I think we have played very well against Cleveland until now. We have a chance. We need to get out there and play with energy.” 

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